Use of electronic dietary assessment tools in primary care: an interdisciplinary perspective
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BACKGROUND: Dietary assessment can be challenging for many reasons, including the wide variety of foods, eating patterns and nutrients to be considered. In team-based primary care practice, various disciplines may be involved in assessing diet. Electronic-based dietary assessment (e-DA) instruments available now through mobile apps or websites can potentially facilitate dietary assessment. Providers views of facilitators and barriers related to e-DA instruments and their recommendations for improvement can inform the further development of these tools. The objective of this study was to explore provider perspectives on e-DA tools in mobile apps and websites. METHODS: The exploratory sequential mixed methods design included interdisciplinary focus groups followed by a web-based survey sent to Family Health Teams throughout Ontario, Canada. Descriptive and bivariate analyses were completed. Focus group transcripts contributed to web-survey content, while interpretive themes added depth and context. RESULTS: 11 focus groups with 50 providers revealed varying perspectives on the use of e-DA for: 1) improving patients' eating habits; 2) improving the quality of dietary assessment; and, 3) integrating e-DA into the care process. In the web-survey 191 respondents from nine disciplines in 73 FHTs completed the survey. Dietitians reported greater use of e-DA than other providers (63% vs.19%; p = .000) respectively. There was strong interest among disciplines in the use of e-DA tools for the management of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, especially for patient self-monitoring. Barriers identified were: patients' lack of comfort with using technology, misinterpretation of e-DA results by patients, time and education for providers to interpret results, and time for providers to offer counselling. CONCLUSIONS: e-DA tools in mobile apps and websites may improve dietary counselling over time. Addressing the identified facilitators and barriers can potentially promote the uptake of e-DA into clinical practice.
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